Ok, so you have a brilliant idea for a mobile game app, and you’ve found the funding and expertise to build it.
Well, to be frank — this is where the real work begins.
Gone are the days when any app could get traction with mobile users – even for the most engaging types of games: hyper casual game apps.
Currently, there are 5.4 million apps available for download in the app stores. That’s a lot of apps. Combine this with the fact that 21% of users, on average, will abandon an app after just one use, and the competition for users’ attention gets even fiercer.
Before you panic, we’re here to help. Here are 5 steps to take to promote your mobile game app and stand out from the rest.
How to Promote Your Mobile Game App in 5 Steps
Step 1: Identify your place in the market
As the saying doesn’t go: Before you build it, make sure they will come.
What we mean by our advice above is that, before you invest any time building your app, do market research to understand if there’s a demand for your app’s content. This understanding spans beyond just researching whether there’s an audience for your game app. You should also do research to understand if there’s a gap in the market for your app.
As we noted above, competition for users’ attention — and dollars — is already fierce in the app space. Before you launch a game app that is similar to a multitude of apps that already exist in the app store, do your research. This will save you time and countless headaches later on.
Side note: In case you’ve already developed your app…
Never fear, we have a solution for you! Conduct an in-depth analysis of the apps you directly compete with. What are their functionalities and features? With the hyper-stimulated attention spans of users these days, even game apps with different content set ups in the same category often go unnoticed. Make a list of at least 5 apps in your category and study their features. From there, determine where you can add functionality to your game to better compete with them.
Step 2: Know your enemy
Building off of step one, dive even deeper into your market research of competitor apps. How are your direct competitors using app titles, icons, descriptions, and keywords? Study their assets, including app store screenshots, descriptions, tutorial videos, and trailers. Our key recommendation is also to dive deep on their user reviews. This will help you determine pain points to be proactive against as you launch your app. How does the app respond to feedback (if at all)? Studying your competitors’ tactics will help you learn from their mistakes and set yourself apart.
Step 3: Consider partnerships and publishers
While you don’t have to partner with a game publisher to launch your app, it's something to consider. Why? Because a third party publisher will help promote your app. That being said, they will also take a cut of your revenue.
Regardless of whether you decide to publish independently or with the help of a publisher, meeting with publishers can be a great way to get feedback on your app in its initial stages. In fact, pitching your game app to publishers will help you zero in on the marketability of your app. If you're successful in your pitching, it will also help build your confidence that your app is ready to go to market.
In addition to publishers, consider partnering with other players in the game app space. This might include developers with aligned (but not competing) audiences or similar points of interest. Cultivating relationships with these types of partners will give you an opportunity to engage in cross-promotional in-app campaigns in the future. You could partner with a developer with complementary titles in its portfolio in which you could display ads for your game app, and vice versa. These cross-promotional initiatives are crucial for long-term promotion and retargeting users back to your game app.
Step 4: Soft launch and test your app
It’s important to squash as many bugs in your app’s functionality as you can in the run up to your official launch. Starting with a soft launch is a smart strategy to tweak design elements and debug storyboard issues. Before any soft launching or testing, define your KPIs. This way you know what you’re testing for and setting up your results to define next steps.
Once you’ve resolved major development issues, consider running a closed beta phase with a select group of players — or, even an open beta phase that invites public users to help you test your game — to help you flush out final development needs before your official launch.
Step 5: Invest in ASO
It’s extremely important to invest in app store optimization (ASO) so that your app is discoverable in the app stores. A cross-channel marketing strategy that combines both paid marketing and organic growth efforts will set your game app up for success. App store traffic, in particular, is vital as 70% of mobile users search the app store to discover new apps.
Basic elements to consider in your ASO strategy include:
- Keyword research
- Title and description optimization
- App icon
- App reviews
Survey your team for a good ASO title. Make sure it includes the main keyword you would like to rank for. Also, consider the screenshots, descriptions, game icons, and videos you include on your app store page. A/B test every element to verify your decisions. Once you’ve optimized your app store page, set KPIs to track your performance.
Next Steps to Promoting Your Mobile Game App: Retargeting
Once your app is ready for launch, the ultimate step is crafting your growth strategy. This should include a mix of brand and performance marketing initiatives.
When it comes to paid marketing, we recommend not only investing in new user growth through user acquisition campaigns, but also in retargeting. As succinctly put by our GM of EMEA, Xavier Bourland, at App Growth Summit Berlin this month: “It’s really important... that you start integrating both [retargeting and new user] strategies from day 1 of your user acquisition campaigns.”
With the average Day 30 retention rate for apps sitting at just 5.7%, it’s clear that getting a user to download your app is just the beginning. Setting up a multi-touch retargeting program to keep your users engaged with your app is the smartest way to promote your mobile game app in the long term.
Takeaways on How to Promote Your Mobile Game App
Gone are the days when any app could get traction with mobile users just by launching. With over 5 million apps available for download in the app stores, the competition is fierce. Here are our 5 steps to successfully promoting your game app to set yourself apart from the rest.
- Step 1: Identify your place in the market. Do market research to identify your audience, gaps in the market and your direct competitors’ features so you can better compete.
- Step 2: Know your enemy. How are your direct competitors using app titles, icons, descriptions, and keywords? Study their assets, including app store screenshots, descriptions, tutorial videos, and the way they respond to feedback.
- Step 3: Consider partnerships and publishers. Decide whether launching your app with a publisher is the right strategy for you. Cultivate relationships with developers with aligned (but not competing) audiences for cross-promotional in-app campaigns down the line.
- Step 4: Soft launch and test your app. Do a soft launch as many bugs as possible in your app’s functionality before you launch. Consider running a closed beta phase with a select group of players to help you flush out final development needs.
- Step 5: Invest in ASO. Conduct keyword research, title and description optimization and a review of your app icon, reviews and localization to be more discoverable in the app store.
- Next steps: Invest in retargeting. We recommend investing in retargeting from Day 1 of your user acquisition campaigns to promote your mobile game app in the long term.
Need help promoting your mobile game app?
These steps are just the beginning to building a long-term promotional strategy for your app. Schedule a meeting with our team to discuss how we can support you in building loyal relationships with your players as your app grows.